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Re: URL-Chicago rock-crit link

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  • Carl Abraham Zimring
    --On Monday, December 2, 2002 10:29 PM +0000 Bill Silvers ... It had not been, and thank you Bill for a valuable piece covering both the nature of a local
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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      --On Monday, December 2, 2002 10:29 PM +0000 Bill Silvers
      <wfsilvers@...> wrote:

      > For Carl, apologies if previously sent:
      >
      > http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more

      It had not been, and thank you Bill for a valuable piece covering both the
      nature of a local music scene and the role of the music critic in that
      scene. There's a lot of grist for discussion in the transcript, but I'd
      like to focus on something that New City critic Dave Chamberlaine said:

      > Chamberlain: Eventually you just can't listen to another rock record, you
      > just can't listen to another hip hop record. [And then] everything that's
      > ever been out there will come under your horizon. You will have to learn
      > about jazz because suddenly that?s all you want to hear. You will get
      > into house music because suddenly you actually get it, and you want to
      > know everything about it. Over the course of time, there's so much music
      > out there, eventually you'll want to write about it, or you'll just
      > become obsessed by it.

      There's some truth to that; one gets sick of the 3,000th Uncle Tupelo
      clone, but when one is listening to new music constantly as a professional
      obligation, does that alter the sensibilities so that it makes
      communicating the experience of listening to the music to the reader more
      difficult? The critics at the roundtable discuss getting hate mail from
      fans who [quoting Greg Kot] "don't like to hear anything negative about the
      bands that they like" but dismiss such criticism by saying that those
      people don't like to be challenged. I'm not sure that that's entirely
      accurate; an alternate explanation is that most people aren't exposed to
      3,000 copies of the same damn thing and have less need to find something
      that's radically different for the sake of being different to one's own
      sensibilities. At what point is there a break in communication between the
      critic and his (I use the gendered pronoun because the entire roundtable
      was male) readers because their fundamental approach to the subject is
      different?

      I'd ruminate more on this, but I need to pull some records...
      Carl Z.
    • Barry Mazor
      ... subject is different? ... Oh, at about the point the critic is probably fired--or moves on to another publication where his sensibilities match the
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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        --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Carl Abraham Zimring <cz28@a...> wrote:
        > At what point is there a break in communication between the
        > critic and his readers because their fundamental approach to the
        subject is different?
        >

        Oh, at about the point the critic is probably fired--or moves on to another
        publication where his sensibilities match the readers better!

        Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay, as
        much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a native
        speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
        life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday" (though
        you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh, paying rent and
        such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a critique, it doesn't hurt
        much.

        Barry
      • Carl Abraham Zimring
        --On Tuesday, December 3, 2002 2:40 AM +0000 Barry Mazor ... That s part of what I m getting at, the assembly-line nature of doing regular music criticism.
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 2, 2002
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          --On Tuesday, December 3, 2002 2:40 AM +0000 Barry Mazor
          <brmaz@...> wrote:

          > Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay,
          > as much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a
          > native speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
          > life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday"
          > (though you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh,
          > paying rent and such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a
          > critique, it doesn't hurt much.

          That's part of what I'm getting at, the assembly-line nature of doing
          regular music criticism. J.D. Considine handled this by being especially
          snide in his old Short Takes column in Musician (where he famously reviewed
          GTR's album as "SHT"); he's an extreme (and Chuck Eddy's "do not take
          anything I say seriously" take is another) but hardly atypical example of
          this attitude.

          A while back on the flufflist, an article was posted about the variance of
          opinions on the film Punch Drunk Love by critics and patrons. Critics
          loved the film, gave it rave reviews and many paying customers absolutely
          loathed it. Critics passed off the customers' negative reaction as (much
          as the Chicago round table did) refusing to be challenged. The comments by
          the customers, however, told a different story. They didn't mind being
          challenged, but the critics had failed to convey what the film was like,
          other than to call it "refreshing" or "challenging" or just plain
          "different" and giving it a positive review on that basis. So I'm
          wondering if one must review 100 films or movies or books every year if the
          need to experience something outside of the norm puts blinders on many
          critics and make them unable to convey much of value to their readers. In
          short (ha!), I agree with the panel that there are very few music critics
          worth reading. Part of the problem, hoewver, is due to a problem of
          communication between reader and writer that the panel either doesn't see
          or doesn't value.

          Now that I've said that, I'll post my snobby list of my favorite records of
          2002. Y'all are welcome to pick 'em apart or post lists of your own.

          Carl Z.
        • Perfect Sound Forever
          I ve been having a lot of arguments with other writers about this- interesting split that half the
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 3, 2002
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            <http://www.chicagomag.com/pressbox/pressbox_story.htm#more>


            I've been having a lot of arguments with other writers about this-
            interesting split that half the people think that these guys are full of
            themselves (and full of shit) while the other half think they're fine
            with what they're saying (with some exceptions).

            I'm leaning toward the former view (they're full of it), especially
            where they're asked "Does working in Chicago affect your writing?" and
            suddenly, their ugly sides come out. Even as a New York writer, I'm
            fine with admitting that Derogatis is right about a cultural writing
            elite here: I saw that in full force at a recent Spin/Blender
            battle-of-the-bands and it made me want to vomit. I think it's the same
            to some extent everywhere though (more in NY though since many major
            mags are HQ'd here) and the panel goes on to prove it by touting their
            own Chicago clique.

            I think that Chicago has a really interesting, thriving music scene (for
            a long time now actually) and they have a right to blow their own
            trumpet about it. My only problem is when they try to parade around
            like they're the best thing going- that's what they seem to be accusing
            NY of.

            Also, when they slam Jon Parales at the NY Times for not being a real NY
            writer, Derogatis and Kot fail to mention that a lot of what they cover
            is not Chicago music. Like Parales, they cover new releases and acts
            that happen to be rolling into town. Peter at the Chicago Reader does
            cover more local stuff but so do less national papers in NY.

            It's a shame because the rest of the time that they're talking there,
            they come across are the serious, committed writers that they are. I
            love Jim and respect Greg but I hope they get over themselves soon.

            I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of that
            round-table article.


            Best,
            Jason
            --
            Perfect Sound Forever
            online music magazine with warped perspectives
            perfect-sound@...
            http://www.perfectsoundforever.com
          • samchecker
            ... Hmm. I think it would have been nice if they expanded a bit on something they barely touched upon--the fact that it s not a critic s job to just report
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 3, 2002
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              --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Perfect Sound Forever <perfect-sound@f...>
              wrote:

              > I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of that
              > round-table article.

              Hmm. I think it would have been nice if they expanded a bit on
              something they barely touched upon--the fact that it's not a critic's
              job to just report what happened at a show. It's their job to give
              their *opinion* of it. I mean, 95% of the angry letters critics get
              are along the useless lines "How can you say (insert band here) suck?
              They're great! You're full of sh*t!". I just bang my head on the
              table every time I read one of these. Hopefully the critic's opinion
              is worth printing because it's informed by a deeper knowledge of music
              than the average reader has. And after a while of reading any given
              critic, you get a sense of what he/she likes vs what you like and
              gauge the opinion accordingly.

              I liked the fact that they brought up the notion that the restaurant
              reviewer doesn't have to review McDonald's, even though the music
              critic is expected to review that dump's audio equivalent. I also
              agree with you, Jason, that the unwarranted and cheap attacks on NYC
              writers and the town in general weakened the argument considerably.

              And maybe I missed it, but they didn't really address the magazine
              writer's initial assertion that music writers, in general, aren't very
              good *writers*. I just snagged the power pop issue of Magnet, and a
              have to say that a more comprehensive collection of tortured
              metaphors, clumsy sentence construction, and cliche masquerading as
              wit would be hard to find outside of a high school newspaper. I mean,
              here's a slick mag with tons of ads, and I know more than a few good
              underemployed writers. How could this happen? (Seeing rockcrit's
              most egregious example of the Peter Principle, Fred Mills, in the
              masthead gives me a clue, though.)

              But I digress. I was most impressed with DeRogatis' remarks about
              writing his reviews for a kid with $20 in his pocket. To me, the
              ability to make that kid want to run out and buy a CD after reading a
              review, convinced that the disc is going to kick his ass, is the mark
              of a really good critic.

              Mark
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